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Perfectly timed scholarship aids Sarah’s Full-time MBA journey

Sarah Ovenden never thought pursuing a full-time MBA would be a viable option for her. Although she'd always wanted to embark on an MBA journey, the costs of the programme, alongside the year or two out of work, seemed like too much of a financial burden - as it is for many.

"I'd always wanted to undertake an MBA, but there's never perfect timing. However, I'd ruled out the possibility of the full-time MBA because, for me, it wasn't financially viable," she says.

That's why Sarah decided to apply for the part-time MBA programme at Alliance Manchester Business School. This globally focused-MBA allows participants to continue working while studying.

A career before the MBA

At the time of applying, Sarah was working for Jaguar Land Rover, a company she'd been working for since graduating from her undergraduate degree in 2016.

"I started by interning in my penultimate year of university. I was then lucky to join the graduate scheme straight out of university, and I spent six years in procurement across both strategy and delivery roles in the UK. I then moved into a material cost transformation role and was in that role for about a year before we had a transformation into business performance," says Sarah.

Sarah believed that the part time MBA would give her international insight and allow her to "learn other areas of business acumen to complement my role that I was doing."

However, the part time MBA option was always second to Sarah's ideal learning method, which was full-time. As she was accepted to the part-time MBA and getting ready to begin her journey of studying while working full-time, an email dropped in her inbox.

Applying for a scholarship

"I received some information from the admissions and marketing team. It seemed that there were really good opportunities to apply for scholarships, so I applied for the Forté Fellow full scholarship," Sarah says.

The Forté Fellow scholarship is a not-for-profit scholarship scheme that aims to enhance the number of women in business education and, therefore, wider business by offering partner schools scholarships for successful female applicants.

After applying, Sarah successfully secured the scholarship, which made her completely change her decision on what method of studying to choose.

"This scholarship was really fundamental to me being able to take part in the full time MBA; without the scholarship, I simply wouldn't have been able to undertake the full time programme," says Sarah, "so it's really made it an inclusive opportunity for me to be part of this course."

An international MBA 

Sarah started the full-time programme in 2023 and will be graduating with an MBA in 2025. So far, the programme is living up to her expectations, and she says the international focus of the MBA is a huge benefit.

"One of my major drivers for undertaking the MBA was that I wanted to work internationally after the MBA," she says. "I've gotten an experience to work with individuals from all around the globe, which is something that would have taken me years and years, if even possible, to get without the MBA. I'm learning from peers that have got a wide range of backgrounds."

The benefits of gender balance

The programme itself has a great gender balance, and the Alliance Manchester Business School MBA boasts an almost 50/50 gender split, something Sarah believes has also been crucial in her getting the most out of it.

"Being part of this cohort, where the split is almost 50/50, men and women, it provides a real opportunity for me as an aspiring future female leader to be part of a cohort and learn from other international women and my male colleagues," she says. I think the programme offers a real good opportunity for female leaders of the future."

And what's more, through the Forté scholarship, it's not just funding that Sarah was able to secure. She has also been able to network with other women in business who secured the scholarship at conferences and events, including "taking part in a guest speaker series and other events completing my MBA", she says.

For the rest of her programme, Sarah is looking forward to "working in new groups for her next modules," which will give her the opportunity to learn even more from other individuals. She will also take on a number of electives and commercial business projects.

Advice for other female applicants

For other women looking to study an MBA, Sarah really stresses the importance of looking at all of the possible funding options available for all programmes. She says to refrain from writing anything off and do as much research as possible into ways to secure financial aid.

"I would really encourage any women looking to undertake an MBA to really consider applying for all of the scholarships that are available to them—I nearly didn't consider them, and I'm so glad I did. If I hadn't done further research, I probably wouldn't be here on this journey with my course today."

To find out more about our MBA programmes, and the scholarship opportunities available, take a look at The Manchester MBA section of our website.